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Archive for February 17th, 2011

In my blog entry yesterday, I addressed the topic of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) after child abuse. The same reader who asked me to cover that topic also requested that I discuss how to tell an intimate partner about past sexual abuse and about having an STD. This reader has been reluctant to date anyone because of this.

First of all, you need to educate yourself about your particular STD if you have not already. You need to make sure that you take every precaution so that you do not infect anyone else. If there is any risk of infecting your partner by engaging in any particular sexual act, don’t do it before you have had a conversation about your STD. Your partner needs to be aware of the risk that he is taking in having an intimate physical relationship with you. If you put him at risk without his knowledge, you are going to sabotage the relationship, even if your partner does not contract the STD.

I would break this into two conversations. The first conversation should be about your history of sexual abuse. Anyone who has been sexually abused has been affected by it … some in very different ways than others, but affected nonetheless. If your partner cannot handle your child abuse history, then he doesn’t need the additional information about your STD.

I recommend Laura Davis’ book Allies in Healing, which is a book written specifically for people in a relationship with someone who was sexually abused as a child. I would take a deep breath and then tell your partner that you were sexually abused as a child. I would answer any questions he might have and then give him a copy of Allies in Healing to read. This book explains things in a way that keeps you from having to do it yourself.

Give your partner time to process the fact that you were sexually abused and to educate himself about how the sexual abuse has affected you. After he has proven that he is going to stand by you rather than run, you can have the second part of the conversation about the STDs. By this time, he might have already considered the possibility, so it shouldn’t come as a complete shock. Be sure to have literature available for him to read about the risks of participating in particular sexual acts with you. Make sure that literature includes ways for having “safer sex” with a person with your particular STD.

If your partner is still committed to you after learning both of these important pieces of information about you, you can feel pretty good about his level of commitment to you. If he runs, it is better that it happens before you enter into a sexual relationship with him and open yourself up to feeling even more vulnerable.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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